As you may have read, one ESPN employee was fired for using the phrase “Chink in the armor” following a loss by the Jeremy Lin lead New York Knicks. The phrase appeared as the lead headline on the ESPN mobile web page. An ESPN broadcaster was also suspended 30 days for using that phrase during an interview with former Knicks player Walt Frazier.
The broadcaster who was suspended clearly was not trying to make a pun when he used that phrase. He swears that there was not a bad intention at all when he said that phrase and it clearly was made in reference to the fact that Lin had lots of turnovers in the games he played. Beyond that, his wife is Asian and while I don’t know the broadcaster personally, I tend to believe him that he would never say anything that his wife or the Asian community would find offensive. His suspension seems to be political correctness run amok and you can bet it wouldn’t have happened if the web page headline hadn’t been written. It's not as if "chink in the armor" is always an offensive phrase compared to someone using the N word, kike or something else that can only have a racist meaning (and no, this is not a challenge to see if you can use those words in a good way).
The guy who wrote the headline has apologized profusely and said that he’s especially upset because being a Christian is the most important thing in his life and he admires that Jeremy Lin lives the same way. He did seem to understand why he was fired. His problem of course is that the headline clearly came off as an offensive pun whether he intended to do it or not. In his defense, he said that he has used that phrase on the ESPN website more than 100 times. Maybe he’s guilty of laziness or a lack of creativity instead of racism. And clearly if the phrase was used in the past, it never bothered anyone because the double meaning wasn’t there.
ESPN is certainly within their rights under the law to fire or suspend these guys. If it was a crime, they would have had to prove intent, but this isn’t the case when it comes to employment law. But it sure seems like the announcer is getting a raw deal, especially if gets associated with anything negative in his career path. The editor who came up with the bad headline is certainly a more justifiable termination. Even if he had no bad intent, it’s his job to know that it could be perceived as offensive. And if you are a family biz like ESPN, you don’t want anyone to be offended.
So legally intent means nothing, but it certainly should be a part of the decision making process if you ask me.
Beyond that, as someone who never found the Charlie Sheen movement the least bit interesting or entertaining, I do have Linsanity. Sunday was the first time in years that I watched a NBA game with interest that didn’t involve the Bulls. But I'm not as excited as the girl in the photo.
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